Population and Environment

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 1–31 | Cite as

Environmental quality and fertility: the effects of plant density, species richness, and plant diversity on fertility limitation

  • Sarah R. Brauner-OttoEmail author
Original Paper


The relationship between the environment and population has been of concern for centuries, and climate change is making this an even more pressing area of study. In poor rural areas, declining environmental conditions may elicit changes in family-related behaviors. This paper explores this relationship in rural Nepal looking specifically at how plant density, species richness, and plant diversity are related to women’s fertility limitation behavior. Taking advantage of a unique data set with detailed micro-level environmental measures and individual fertility behavior, I link geographically weighted measures of flora at one point in time to women’s later contraceptive use as a way to examine this complex relationship. I find a significant, positive relationship between plant density, species richness, and plant diversity and the timing of contraceptive use. Women in poor environmental conditions are less likely to terminate childbearing, or do so later, and therefore more likely to have larger families.


Natural resources Environmental quality Contraceptive use Fertility Population Nepal 



This research was supported by Award Number R01HD032912 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. The content is solely the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development or the National Institutes of Health. I am thankful to Rebecca Schewe, Amanda Clay Powers, Dirgha Ghimire, and William Axinn for their help with this research and to all of the staff at the Institute for Social and Environmental Research in Chitwan, Nepal, for their data collection efforts.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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